Obama made his pitch in a news conference, in which he asked for six long, discussion-oriented forums, with at least four outside the Chicago media market. […]
Obama's news conference Sunday was somewhat surprising. Typically, it is the underdog who steps before the media first in the hope that public debates will even things out. Obama has been substantially ahead of Ryan, an investor turned inner-city-school teacher, in public opinion polls.
Ultimately, as the article
says, sponsors and media outlets will constrain the debates to the formats we're now used to. But it's a smart move on Obama's part as it demonstrates to voters the best of his intentions: once more he puts political fortunes at risk (mildly, in this case, but taking chances with his considerable lead nonetheless) for a principle, to have a more meaningful discussion of issues.